Argyle Diamonds – Production, Characteristics and Grading

This is the third article in the series about the Argyle diamonds. 

The first article introduced you with the Argyle diamonds.

The second part discussed Argyle diamonds history.

Best known for some of the worlds most exceptional fancy colored diamonds, Argyle Diamond mine is perhaps most famous for its production of top quality Pink diamonds. In fact, if truth were told; the Argyle mine alone unearths 90 percent of rare pink diamonds globally. 

While pink diamonds stand at the forefront of Argyles production, the mine is also known for its production of yellow, blue and the extremely rare red diamonds. As if that were not enough, another popular product the Argyle mine has in abundance are beautiful rich brown diamonds: which historically have not retailed successfully.   Although Argyles owner, Rio Tinto through marketing them as champagne, Cognac and chocolate diamonds, has had a hand in their growing popularity: making Argyle a name that has become synonymous with diamonds.

 

Diamond Production at the Argyle Mine

 

The Argyle mine is in reality one of the most prolific producers of diamonds in the world.  Mining 35 million carats per year give or take a few, the Australian mine is responsible for roughly one-third total global production annually. If the sheer volume expressed in those numbers does not impress, then the 750 million carats of rough diamonds generated since the mines opening in 1983 may do the trick. 

Regardless of the impressive volume, it is a very low percentage of Argyle diamonds that can be classified as gem quality or jewelry grade. 

Here is s quick look at the production statistics:

• 50% industrial grade

• 45% near-gem quality

• 5%  gem quality

 

Just to give it a little more perspective, from the 5% we can break it down further: 

• 80% Brown Diamonds

• 16% Yellow Diamonds

• 2% White Diamonds

• 2% Grey Diamonds

• Fewer than 1% Pink Diamonds

An explanation for these numbers comes from experts who believe that it stems from a comparatively short formation period.  While the Argyle pipe is approximately 1.5 billion years old, the volcanic rock that bears the pipe is merely 1.1 billion years old. What all this means is that 400 million years is not a very long period in which diamonds can form. It is also a good explanation for why the Argyle mine produces a large quantity of diamonds in small sizes.

Breaking news: Argyle mine might cease production within two to three years.

 

Diamond Characteristics at the Argyle Mine

The Argyle mine as discussed above is certainly a prolific producer of diamonds, but volume is not its only claim to fame. Argyle diamonds are also known for a few other characteristics that set them apart from any other diamonds. 

One of the prime factors that differentiate Argyle diamonds is doubtless the intensity of color found in Argyle pinks.

A further aspect found in pink diamonds from the Argyle mine is the fluorescence they give off when placed under UV light, a feature that can be found in about 70 percent of Argyle diamonds. 

Finally, when you purchase an important diamond (mostly pink) from the Argyle mine you also receive a certificate of authenticity stating that your purchase is a genuine Argyle diamond.

Original Argyle diamond certificate

Argyle diamond orignal and unique certificate

 

 

Pink color in Diamonds

The causes of the color Pink in diamonds is still somewhat of a mystery.  One theory is that during the diamonds formation, trace elements were exposed to carbon atoms, causing the pink hues. Yet another theory supposes the color is a result of extreme heat and pressure that deformed the structure of the crystal lattice: a process known as non-isotropic stress.  

As discussed earlier, Argyle pink diamonds have more intense color and saturation than pink diamonds found in other mines. A possible explanation for this is the graining lines or planes (twinning lamination) within the stone that contribute to its more intense color. This may also be a good rationalization for the Argyle mines extremely rare and highly sought after red diamonds.

Red diamonds can be included in the pink diamond group as an expression (appearance) of their most intense coloration.  Highly rare, there are only 20 known red diamonds, none weighing greater than 5.11-carats. The rarity and beauty of this unique color is responsible for generating some record-breaking prices and bidding wars when they appear at auction. 

Although the Argyle mine may be the leading producer of pink and red diamonds today, it has been estimated that the mines supply may be exhausted by 2018. 

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Argyle Diamonds Color Chart

 

With such a variety of shades and hues found in pink diamonds, the Argyle mine has produced a helpful color chart to distinguish between them. 

                               Argyle Pink Diamonds color chart

 

Looking at the above chart, you can see that it is separated into three main categories: hue, saturation and tone. 

• Hue refers to the dominant color of the diamond. 

• Saturation reflects the strength of color density in the hue. 

• Tone is the level of brightness and/or darkness of the diamond. 

In general, pink diamonds have nine degrees of color intensity for each category: 

Purplish Pink: 9PP, 8PP, 7PP, 6PP, 5PP, 4PP, 3PP, 2PP, 1PP

Pink: 9P, 8P, 7P, 6P, 5P, 4P, 3P, 2P, 1P

Pink Rose: 9PR, 8PR, 7PR, 6PR, 5PR, 4PR, 3PR, 2PR, 1PR

Pink Champagne: PC1, PC2, PC3, PC4

Blue Violet: BL1, BL2, BL3, BL4

Red

Apart from the 4c’s, color grade is the most critical thing to consider when investing in fancy color diamonds. The Argyle color chart is a fantastic tool for collectors and investors to use when trying to establish the value of a diamond.

 

Unique Laser Inscription

Did you know that every Argyle diamond weighing 0.15-carats or more comes with an identifying serial number? The Argyle mines laser inscription can be found on the diamond girdle, ensuring the authenticity of every rare pink diamond…and peace of mind.

Argyle diamond identifying serial number mark

Inscribed serial number on an Argyle’s pink diamond’s girdle

A GIA certificate stating the inscription number of a specific Argyle’s colored diamond

 

Annual pink tender

Every year approximately 40 to 60 of the Argyle mines finest pink diamonds, ranging in price from 100,000 USD to 1,000,000 USD per carat, are presented at an exclusive pink tender.  The tender is an invitation only event held by mine owner Rio Tinto. The event attracts the most prominent names in the diamond industry. 

 

Investing in Argyle Pink Diamonds

The timeless beauty of diamonds, a luxury that at one time was reserved for the world’s aristocracy is now one of the most sought after investments. 

Today, whether you are an investor, collector, celebrity or simply an admirer, pink diamonds provide one of today’s hottest investment opportunities. The Fancy Colored Diamond market has shown increasing demand and steady price increases making them worthy of addition to any investment portfolio. 

Knowing this, the only question left to answer when it comes to investing in pink diamonds is…why now. 

The answer to this lies in the following facts:

• Natural pink diamonds are rare

• The main producer of pink diamonds (The Argyle Mine) is nearing the end of its productive life

When you take into consideration the above facts, combine them with growing market trends and the record of price increase over the past 20 years it becomes apparent why investors are seriously looking at pink diamonds. 

The timer on the opportunity for investing in pink diamonds has been set and the clock is ticking on the chance to own the best of the pinks. In the coming years, the Argyle mine will cease production and the value of pink diamonds’ will rise accordingly. 

 

The forth and final part in the series is focused mainly on Investing in Argyle pink diamonds

 

The time to invest is now!